News and Tribune

Floyd County Sports

June 23, 2014

GIRLS' TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: New Albany senior Jayla Bethel

Bulldog senior was 14th in the state the 200

NEW ALBANY — Four of the five finalists for the 2013 News and Tribune Girls’ Track Athlete of the Year returned in 2014.

New Albany senior Jayla Bethel sprinted past them all to take the 2014 honor. After disappointing results at last year’s Bloomington North Regional shut her out of the state finals — except in the 400 relay — Bethel qualified for state in three events in her senior year.

“The biggest difference was my self-determination,” she said. “Going into my senior year, I really wanted to have a great season and I wanted to make it to state in two [individual] events.”

Bethel’s strong senior year started last summer when she and New Albany sprint coach Vince Hogue came up with a plan to get her to her goals.

“We set up workouts and we were not playing,” Bethel recalled.

“She’s an awesome hard worker,” Hogue said. “With her dedication, I never had to worry about her not showing up for practice.”

Bethel began the 2014 season running the 200 and the 400. Late in the season, she and Hogue decided the best course for success was in the 100 and 200, which she had done in her past postseasons. After running the longer events all season, Bethel felt stronger in the shorter runs.

“I felt like when I added the 100 back in, I wasn’t tired at all,” she said. “Adding the 100 back in, it was a breeze.”

“We wanted to put her into position to advance,” Hogue said. “She could have gone either way.”

It was decided before the Hoosier Hills Conference meet that Bethel would run the 100 for the first time all season to help the Bulldogs compete for the title. She ran a 12.75 to easily take the conference title. It made the coaching staff rethink their postseason strategy.

“It was like all of the sudden, ‘Wow!’ Let’s try [the 100] again’ because the time she ran was ridiculous,” Hogue recalled. “When she got in that race, she blew everyone away. It was like, where did that come from? We never even considered her running the 100 [in the postseason], but after that, we knew she had a chance [to advance to state] in the 100.”

Bethel started the 2014 postseason with three sectional championships — a first for her — at the Corydon Central Sectional. The future Cincinnati Bearcat won the 100 in 12.73, the 200 in a sectional-record 26.09 and the 400 relay — with Aalyiah Bell, Courtney Palmer and Jasmine Sims — in 49.86, which was also a sectional record.

“It was an amazing day,” Bethel said. “Going into the 200, I wasn’t sure I was going to win. Being my senior year, I just wanted to hold the titles.”

“[Breaking records] is never the focus,” Hogue added. “We just wanted [her] to run well.”

Then came the regional and her shot at getting to state. She accomplished it with a runner-up finish in the 100 then added a second in the 400 relay and a third in the 200.

“I wasn’t focused on the 100 at all. [Getting to state in the] 200 was my goal,” she said. “When I made it to the finals in the 100, I was like, “Okay, maybe I can make it in the 100, too.’ I went for it and I made it in both events.”

“I was really proud of her because I knew that she deserved it and that she’d earned it,” New Albany head coach Casey Schneider said.

Bethel closed her high school career, which includes five sectional titles and nine regional appearances, by placing 14th in the state in the 200 in 25.87 — her first sub-26-second performance ever — and 21st in the 100 in 12.88. She also led the Bulldogs’ 400 relay team to a sixth-place finish in a school-record 48.53.

“My goal was to break [into the] 25 seconds [range],” she said of her blazing 200 performance. “I was surprised when I got 14th. I was seeded second-to-last place. To get all the way to 14th, I couldn’t be any happier with that.”

“To be able to see her hard work pay off, to be able to say she’s one of the top kids [in the state], it’s great for her,” Hogue said. “Having her be as dominant as she was, [it] was really great.”

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